I just bought an SUV, so I can now transport boards much more easily than in my sedan. However, the SUV is not big enough to fit 4x8' or 5x5' sheet goods, even with the 2nd and 3rd row seats folded down. I may be able to tilt the sheet goods, but that still may not fit.

I do have roof racks, so thought that might be a better way to go. I worry about wind getting under the sheet goods and lifting them, though, especially since my hardwood dealer is ~20 miles away via highways.

Is there a good way to tie sheet goods to an SUV roof rack, that would prevent them from lifting up from wind? Or is there a jig I can build to more safely transport wood on the roof rack?

  • Agree with @keshlam, but are we talking about aftermarket racks (yakima/etc) or factory racks? If factory racks, then I'd never trust them to resist the uplift. If aftermarket racks, then the answer would be, "it depends on numerous factors..." Nov 28, 2016 at 1:03
  • Just as a note, even the largest SUVs typically can't fit a full sheet. These is a job for full size minivans, which almost all of them can fit a full sheet with the second and third rows removed. I've even loaded our Odyssey with a 4X8 with the second row in place with child car seats - the sheet was bent but the trunk door closed.
    – Eli Iser
    Nov 28, 2016 at 1:58
  • @AloysiusDefenestrate factory racks. Haven't looked at what the manual says on loading capacity or anything yet
    – mmathis
    Nov 28, 2016 at 2:39
  • Loading guidelines from the manufacturer will be informative. If I was absolutely desperate, I'd have the sheet goods attached securely to the racks, and the entire pile strapped securely through the body of the vehicle. (Uplift and all...) Drive slow. Nov 28, 2016 at 4:15
  • Whatever you do, don't be this guy
    – FreeMan
    Dec 16, 2016 at 15:54

3 Answers 3


Drive Very Slowly, and Do Not Overload. The Car Talk guys have a story about a friend who sheared off most of the front of his car when he stopped suddenly but the pile of plywood on the roof didn't.

Personal recommendations:

Install a proper roof rack, secure strongly to that without exceeding it's cargo rating, consider a leading airfoil, and drive slow.

Or tTpransport plywood inside the vehicle. Cut it down to rough sizes first if full sheets won't fit. Mist yards have panel saws and will make some number of cuts free or cheap.

If it still wouldn't fit, borrow a van or pickup, rent a truck or pay to have it delivered to site.

The risks from doing it wrong greatly exceed the cost of doing it right.


I transport 4x8 plywood on my roof racks, I usually run a couple of 2x4s under the roof racks the full length of the ply and strap to those at the front and back as well as strapping to the actual roof racks. Makes it a lot harder for the winds to lift it up.


I've hauled sheet goods on a roof rack and even on the top of a car without a roof rack, and it is not easy lifting full sheets up there. Even then, I personally would't be very comfortable hauling more than a couple hundred pounds on the roof. I was only hauling across town so didn't have to worry about highway speeds in those cases, but I would have taken a tip from truckers and added dunnage or blocking to help focus the pressure of the tie-downs (possibly flexing the sheets slightly) and help keep multiple sheets from sliding against each other and prevent the edges from getting marred by having ratchet straps wrapped directly around them.

Note also that most cars these days only come with the roof rails, and you have to buy the cross bars separately. If you do not have cross bars, it will be more difficult to properly secure your cargo and keep it from sliding forward and backward as you decelerate and accelerate.

That said, I much prefer using my 4'x8' utility trailer. It is very easy to secure the load so it doesn't slide around, and if you get one with sides and/or a fold-down ramp on the back, it's even easier. I've also used it to haul heavy stationary tools, yard waste, and water-damaged basement carpet and pad. Granted, it requires some space for storage, but there have been quite a few instances in which it was way easier to load and unload my trailer than it would have been to use a roof rack or truck.

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